FordDirect Launches Chat Services with LiveConnect to Increase Dealer Sales Leads

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DEARBORN — Ford Direct announced Tuesday it has introduced LiveConnect Communication Service, an enhancement to its product offerings that enables dealers to better engage with consumers in real time through their websites.

FordDirect’s LiveConnect Communication Service offers a customizable, dealer-managed chat system, with integrated software that automatically travels through the customer journey and prompts dealers to follow up.

As auto shoppers demand more instantaneous information, they have become increasingly interested in contacting dealers through live chat. Given these trends, dealers should prioritize chat leads to benefit from high conversion rates and increased customer satisfaction. An independent study by R.L. Polk shows that 30 percent of Internet shoppers who engage in chat on a dealership’s site purchase a vehicle within 60 days.

“With its high conversion rates, chat presents an ideal platform through which dealers can capture valuable sales leads,” said Valerie Fuller, Chief Operating Officer for FordDirect. “Because consumers today are demanding instant access to information, chat services enable dealers to connect with customers on their own terms, while building loyalty and improving overall satisfaction.”

FordDirect also offers a Fully Managed Chat Service that provides around-the-clock responses to customer chats. This concierge service enhances customer satisfaction and helps drive new leads to the dealership.

The Fully Managed Chat Service offers:
* 24/7 live operator service to monitor dealer website and generate leads
* Dealership-specific custom FAQ gives dealers the ability to manage pre-set answers to common questions
* Increased opportunities to capture customer information as chat specialists track the customer’s journey through the website and proactively reach out to generate chat sessions
* Optional chat pop ups to engage site visitors

Both LiveConnect (dealer-managed chat) and Fully Managed Chat Service offer a dealer interface and dashboard, where dealers can monitor current visitors on their website and track activity. The service instantly sends chat leads and transcripts to the dealership through the lead processing system and allows dealers to view real-time metrics that assist dealers in formulating target marketing and sales strategies, while improving customer service and customer engagement.

Through a pilot program, FordDirect discovered that chat increases online customer engagement, provides dealerships with more opportunities to foster customer loyalty, and that chat customers are more likely to make a purchase than many other lead sources. The pilot results showed that the Fully Managed chat sites received more than twice as many chats and attained more than double the chat conversion of the LiveConnect (dealer-managed) chat sites.

Dealers can also opt to take a hybrid approach to chat where live operators provide back-up answering assistance during business hours to minimize the risk of missed chats and an after-hours answering service responds to customer inquiries even when the dealership is closed.

Ford dealers currently enrolled in Call Tracking will receive dealer-managed chat for free as a part of the new LiveConnect Communication Service. Dealers can request chat integration if they wish and can also enroll in Fully Managed Chat Service, available as a stand-alone product for any Ford or Lincoln dealership.

FordDirect recently published a whitepaper on the use of Chat as a complement to the online shopping experience, entitled, “Let’s Talk about Better Customer Service.” Visit http://news.forddirectdealers.com/ChatBestPractices to learn best practices and tips on driving an enhanced customer experience.

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